We#039;re going to eat meat, whether you like it or not

by Beacon Staff • December 3, 2008

The Vegetarian Food Festival wheeled its way into the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in November, giving away and selling everything from meatless beef jerky to vegan carrot cake with vegan cream cheese icing. This kind of congregation tends to bring out the strongest of anti-meat sentiments. "Meat eater" and "non-vegetarian" become dirty words spoken about ignorant people. I stayed away from the festival, fearing unnecessary guilt for enjoying real beef jerky. I like meat, and I believe it's time for the typical heartless, blood hungry stereotypes often thrown at omnivorous people to stop. It is possible to consume animal products and be a healthy, caring, environmentally friendly individual.

Proteins found in meat and animal products cannot be found completely in any other food. According to the Center for Disease Control, our body is made up of proteins that are constantly being broken down for energy. We eat food to replace this protein. It takes a daily source of eggs, meat or fish to continue giving your body the amount of protein it needs.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians, who consume milk and eggs, are normally receiving the proper amount of proteins because of their consumption of animal products. With the increase of soy products and egg, milk, and cheese substitutes, some vegetarians are becoming more strictly vegetarian, or vegan, consuming little to no eggs or milk.

Being a meatatarian all my life, I have heard every reason why I should not eat meat, the most common being "but it's so mean to kill the animal." But vegetarians are killing plants every day, plants that were living organisms, forced to grow in over-crowded environments. The need behind killing plants is the same need that results in the killing of animals. It is the natural circle of life that something is going to have to die so that something else can live.

Charles Eisenstein, philosopher and fellow meat eater, dissects the philosophy behind eating meat in his piece "The Ethics of Eating Meat: A Radical View." He intelligently demands vegetarians to tear down the wall of separation that they feel makes them more conscious individuals.

"Of course there is pain and fear when the cow is taken to the slaughter (and when the robin pulls up the worm, and when the wolves down the caribou, and when the hand uproots the weed), and that makes me sad.but underneath the sadness is a joy that is dependent not on avoiding pain and maximizing pleasure, but on living rightly and well," Eisenstein wrote.

Like many other cow consumers, I am concerned about the environment. It is definitely a challenge to go green and eat meat. Just the nature of the phrase insinuates that the consumption of green things will expedite the going green process. There are, however, many opportunities for carnivorous beings to enjoy eco-friendly animal products.

Grass-fed beef might be more expensive, but buying it pays farmers who are willing to raise fewer steers in order to make the meat healthier, which is better for both the steer and the consumer. Eating low mercury fish like Tilapia and Pollock does its part to help lessen the strain on the fish population, since these are fish that are low on the food chain and are not commonly in danger of being overfished.

Buying meat from companies like Tyson, which are sending their excess fat from their slaughtered cows to oil companies that will turn the fat into diesel fuels, is a unique way to go green and eat meat. It might take a little research to find out which companies are involved in programs like this, but paying companies who are using their scraps to help the environment encourages other companies to do the same.

Consuming meat is a long standing human tradition. Times and opinions change, but the desire to consume meat has not changed. By stepping up and doing our part to make the world a better place, we meat eaters will not go extinct in this more cow conscious world.

iEmily Gonzalez is a sophomore print journalism major and a staff member of/i The Beaconi./i